JUBA, SEPTEMBER 18, 2023 (SUDANS POST) – South Sudan parliament on Monday passed the National Elections Act 2012 (Amendment Bill 2023) despite protest from the main armed opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO).
The controversial bill was passed by majority of members of the transitional parliament largely SPLM under President Salva Kiir Mayardit, the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA) and the Other Political Parties (OPP) and that was over 100 lawmakers belonging to the SPLM-IO decided to boycott the sitting.
Speaking to Sudans Post this afternoon, outspoken SPLM-IO member of parliament Juol Nhomngek Daniel said that the opposition lawmakers from his group walked out of the session because there was a provision in the bill giving the president the power to appoint at least five percent of members of parliament, something he said the president may abuse.
“We walked out because the House, especially the majority of the SPLM members, were recommending that 5% of those of the members of the House, in the future House, should be appointed by the President on the argument that to balance any inequality,” he said.
“We said no, in the real democratic society, people should select all their members to come to the house because if we do that, it has some implications. One of the implications is that it may give the president another arbitrary power, another arbitrary power which he [the president] can misuse,” he added.
He said among the implication of the president appointing members of parliament is that those members would be loyal to the appointing authority and will not represent the will of the people as they might give the SPLM party an upper hand.
“The President is going to appoint members of the Parliament who will be 17 in total, and this may change any democratic rights in the Parliament, because those who are appointed will be voting in favour of the one appointing them,” he said.
“This will mean that the party of the President will always have upper hand, and this one will change the will of the people, and the people have elected members of Parliament to represent them. Second, those powers will be used wrongly, like what happened in 2011 when the president was given some powers,” he added.
South Sudan is expected to go to elections for the first time since independence next year. There has been concerns from opposition groups that the ruling faction of the SPLM party is going to rigg the elections as key provisions of the revitalized peace agreement have not been implemented.
The peace deal signed in 2018 provides for a permanent constitution, formation of a national army that would provide security during elections, return of refugees and transitional justice, all should be completed before elections.
But those provisions have not been made and the president’s party, the SPLM-IG, has stated previously that it will go for elections in December 2024 with or without the participation of the opposition groups who are also signatories of the revitalized peace deal.
The SPLM-IO led by First Vice President Riek Machar has said that the country is not ready for elections and that they will not take part in any election that would be a recipe for another violence such as the one which engulfed the country in December 2013.